Central Park West Skyline: A Report on Future Potential Development
What is now referred to as the “Central Park West Skyline” was created serendipitously by the
buildings constructed along the western perimeter of Central Park since 1870. Among these
buildings are many of New York’s most iconic landmarks including The Dakota Apartments
(West 72nd Street), the American Museum of Natural History (between West 77th and 81st
Streets) and the soaring twin-towered apartment buildings of the 1920s and 30s.
The Central Park West Skyline as a whole has a powerful presence both physically and
psychologically. Its distinctive, undulating high-rise/low-rise silhouette defines New York City
as resonantly as the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station or the Statue of Liberty.
Created by happenstance, the Central Park West Skyline is now a treasured New York City
landmark. The stretch from West 62nd to 96th Streets was designated as part of the Upper
West Side/Central Park West Historic District in 1990. However, historic district status, even
coupled with contextual zoning (applied here in 1984), does not necessarily protect the
skyline as we know it. In fact, existing regulations create development opportunities,
especially over low-rise sites, that could tip the balance and transform this quintessential part
of New York.
This study was undertaken to provide a technical framework to aid the community,
developers, architects and relevant city agencies in analyzing and guiding the future in this
portion of the Historic District to assure that any development is compatible with the existing
skyline silhouette and the surrounding built context.
Recent and recurring proposals for redevelopment on lots facing Central Park within the
Historic District make this project particularly timely. Periodic downturns in the economy and
real-estate market relieve development pressures only temporarily on this perennially valuable
asset. Now is the time to establish a long-range vision for the future of Central Park West.
This study is dedicated to the memory of Norman Marcus—friend, neighbor, colleague, teacher.
Draft Report by weisz + yoes architecture (about 11 MB - takes just a minute to download)
Read about the New-York Historical Society,
one of 10 sites on Central Park West
where new towers may rise, forever changing the skyline as we know it today.